My brain does this interesting thing where it will just come up with random images. Sometimes it is so quick, I literally see (in my mind's eye) the image in the blink of an eye. I might see an abstract image with tons of shapes and colors, I might see an idea for a painting, an image from my memory, or just colors next to each other or mixing together.
When I paint a lot this happens more frequently, especially when I get settled in for bed. It actually makes a lot of sense for a visual person to have this ability, and for it to increase as one practices visual skills. Nevertheless, I find it a bit fascinating.
When I was struggling with the colors of this painting the flashes of color combos and mixes were happening a lot.. After several days of working on this painting I realized I needed to take a step back and be more mindful about what I was doing. It was then that I noticed that those color combos that had been flashing in my mind's eye were some of the solutions for this painting. I don't know why I didn't make that connection immediately. Oddly enough, I've never considered these images to be about what I'm actively working on, but to ideas for future works-- my subconscious processing visual information that it has taken in, not necessarily processing through a problem I'm working on now.
The day after this realization I sat down and put an entirely different color on the background. It was an immediate transformation. The little deer that had been so boring, drab, and flat popped to life. All those color tricks I had been using on the hair were working all along, it was just that the background was literally sucking the vibrance out of the subject.
Colors are really interesting and can look totally different based on the color(s) around them. Artists have to be conscientious of this affect as they work, which I clearly was not doing at the time. I'm really happy with the way this little deer turned out, and got to learn a whole lot on along the way.
The lessons we learn in the process of making art often mirror important lessons for life. Here are my big take-aways:
1: When things aren't working you can't just try harder with the same approach and expect different results. (Muscle memory, habits, and patterns can be powerful tools for growth or for digging ourselves deeper into ruts.)
2: Sometimes you already know the solution, but you just have pause and listen to your intuition.
3: If your background is killing your vibrance consider making a change.
Have you learned any unexpected lessons in your creative endeavors? Also, I'm super interested in knowing if anyone else has a quirky visual brain like mine! Let me know if that is you!
Growth can be a hard thing. Sometimes it's hard because we resist it, we don't want to do the work, we don't want to accept something, or we feel safe in what we know. But sometimes growth is hard because we don't know what we don't know.
In a lot of ways I've been pushing myself pretty hard, artistically speaking. I've been putting in tons of hours, and pushing my style more. I usually paint intuitively; I don't often have a solid plan, outside of my subject. I just get to painting, and work it out as I go. The process itself if much like a conversation, and the conversation leads the way to the final piece. Right before I moved, I went through a phase where I was getting paintings completed much faster than normal. I thought I had hit a stride and advanced to a new way of working in which I'd be able to crank out paintings with great efficiency.
That turned out to be wistful thinking, and ironically I've felt that the last few paintings I have completed or that I am currently working on have been some of the most challenging. In some ways that conversational aspect of my process felt more like an argument.
The painting shown above (cropped) was one such piece. As soon as I transferred the photo from my camera to my computer I knew I wanted to paint it. I was excited to get started on it and thought it would just flow out with ease. That was not the case. Instead, I struggled and struggled with this piece. I changed this piece so many times. I shifted colors, I shifted shapes, I played with more texture, less texture, more light, less light. Nothing was feeling right, and not matter what I did I felt like the colors were sinking into themselves instead of shining, and my normal techniques were not working. Struggling to this extent with a painting was something new, and it was very frustrating. I even began to feel like a fraud, and my confidence was being affected. (That's not something I really want to admit, but I think we often hide our struggles and the real aspects of life when we'd be better off, as a species, if we learned to be more open.)
Anyway, the solution came from an unusual, and quirky way in which my artist brain works. I'll tell you about that in my next post, but in the meantime remember to be gentle with yourself, sometimes big lessons can be really challenging, but without the challenge you never grow.
The second round of the Co-op Concert Series was a lot of fun. I had the pleasure of hosting Oklahoma-native, Mallory Eagle. I have been following Mallory for several years on instagram, and regretfully never had the chance to see her live while I was living in Oklahoma. Hopefully, I'll get to catch one of her shows when I'm visiting Oklahoma or Nashville.
If you love Americana/Roots Country check her out! You won't be disappointed. Mallory told us about the real-life inspiration for her soon to be released single "Carole with an E." Hear that and more on the IGTV video, and make sure to give Mallory a follow on Instagram @malloryeagle
I'm working on the line-up for future Co-op Concert Series events, so if you are a musician and interested in participating send me a message.
One of the guiding principles in my life is finding balance. I'm not even sure that balance is the right word, because there are times where certain things have to be front and center while other things are put on the back burner, but overall I want to live a holistic life in which each of the important parts of life are given a share that is adequate for them.
It's hard to sum up exactly, but for me, it means a life in which I work well, pursue my passions with joy and thoughtfulness, cultivate loving and compassionate relationships, eat and move in a way that promotes mental and physical wellness, and approach problems with integrity and creativity.
Lately I've had some deadlines and goals to accomplish so I have been putting in a lot of hours painting. I wouldn't have even thought I was capable of putting in so many hours a day focused on painting, but it was a nice surprise to learn that I could. The last 10 days were particularly crammed. I was trying to finish several paintings in time for a deadline. I painted with such focus that I didn't even notice the tree outside the window I paint by had bloomed!
Yesterday I finally had time to reinstate my morning walk, and it was like coming out of a stupor. It was shocking that I could be surrounded by so much beauty and not have seen it for so many days. In some ways those days are lost because they didn't have that element to them, but it was a necessary sacrifice. I really didn't have any of that time to spare, and worked right up until the deadline, but it was a good reminder of how easy it can be to lose sight of important elements of our life. What do you consider to be the important elements in your life? Do you have any strategies for finding balance?
Nashville based singer-songwriter, Van Darien, and I teamed up this week to bring a combine concert and painting demo to Instagram live. This was the first in a new series of Instagram Live and IGTV videos that I am doing. I'm currently working on the new line up starting with Mallory Eagle on the April 12. (I'll be posting more on that soon.)
There are a lot of things in the works around here, so if you want to make sure that you don't miss anything follow me on instagram and sign up for the newsletter. (I promise I won't send you tons of email or share your information with anyone.)